Mark Nowak | Social Poetics (An Introduction)

    Langston Hughes, no doubt reflecting on his own wide-ranging political activities in and beyond Jim Crow America during the first half of the twentieth century, once described what he felt to be a central difference between the “social poet” and those poets who were more exclusively concerned with aesthetics and craft: “I have never known the police of any country to show an interest in lyric poetry as such. But when poems stop talking about the moon and begin to mention poverty, trade unions, color lines, and colonies, somebody tells the police.” Hughes’s crucial essay, published in W….

Julian Murphet | “Wide as Targes Let Them Be,” or, How a Poem Is a Barricade

  The commons are what capitalism has always been committed to enclosing within its apparatus of accumulation.1 On their violently vacated place arise the motley privacies of individual contracts, rents, factories, banks, police, and all the interrelated paraphernalia of capital’s machinery of valuation and surplus. The commons themselves cannot be valued—they are beyond, prior to, value. Common land, common air, common water; but also, horticulture, animal husbandry, grain storage. The collective practices developed over millennia to harness the resources of our planet, and maximize human potentiality, form a sometimes vicious, sometimes virtuous feedback loop with the commons and dynamize their…